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The battle of Berlin

india Updated: Jul 09, 2006 01:29 IST

Water sure creates a fizz in this country. Germans tend to drink it with gas and if you are not careful, the apple juice could have it too. And when it rained for some 30 minutes here on Friday, the stadium media centre had to be evacuated ignoring the protests of an Italian who complained about the harassment over “four drops of rain”.

It rained most of Saturday morning too but some 24 hours before the World Cup final, the skies have cleared. And the unbelievable party that began on June 9 and showcased a Germany never known to be this friendly — in his 11th World Cup as an administrator Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general-secretary Peter Velappan called it “the New Germany” — will end.

Come Sunday evening, should Italy and France provide a fitting farewell, this World Cup will be talked about for long. Even though there hasn’t been one great team, one real star or many rivetting matches. Ronaldinho went home early and Zinedine Zidane flowered late while Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raul didn’t bloom at all. The match between the Netherlands and Portugal was dubbed “a card game” making Nuremberg, which in any case, has a political history, now also a football landmark for the wrong reason.

But the atmosphere has definitely had everyone talking. From Gary Lineker to Sepp Blatter. From Juergen Klinsmann to Lothar Matthaeus. The football’s been okay but overall, it’s been great, everybody said.

What began with Claudia Schiffer and hiphop will have Shakira for a fitting finale. In a red top and black trousers she practised her routine with Wycliffe Jean, belting out Hips don’t lie on Friday evening after the rain. It completed the spectrum of what the stadium built to showcase Nazi supremacy but where Jesse Owens in 1936 came up trumps has seen.

The Shakira act will only whet the appetite. In the overall scheme of things, it is for Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, Franseco Totti and the other gladiators who square up thereafter, to ensure a memorable end.